There was a meeting Wednesday at Friendship House where residents could talk with City and School District officials about their concerns. I was dumbfounded by this one:
Another [attendee] said she was worried for two of her younger children because of a lack of youth activities.
“After 5:30 (p.m.), there’s just nothing for them to do . . . when are you going to give them something to do to keep them off the streets, out of the gangs . . . and be part of the community,” the woman said.
First of all, I can’t believe someone actually said that. There are a lot of ellipses — perhaps she was misquoted or taken out of context. But if that’s an accurate representation of the question, God have mercy on our nation. Think about the philosophy described here: she believes the reason her kids are on the streets and joining gangs is because the government hasn’t provided sufficient youth activities. And “when are you going to give them something” exhibits a textbook definition of “entitlement mentality.” I wonder what she thinks her responsibility is, if anything, as the parent of her children.
That said, there are, in fact, plenty of free entertainment options. We just expanded the libraries in Peoria, so there is more opportunity to borrow and read good books. The libraries even have organized summer reading programs that include prizes. District 150 has just built two new schools with huge outdoor playground areas where kids can play basketball or baseball. The park system has baseball diamonds, tennis courts, frisbee golf courses, and other amenities. Lots of churches have youth activities. The Christian Center has bowling, pool, ping-pong, and other games at low prices. There is no shortage of opportunities for young people to entertain themselves in this city.
I wish someone would have pointed out to her that it’s not the City’s or the School District’s job to entertain her children. The City and School District don’t have the resources or responsibility to raise the children of Peoria — that’s the parents’ responsibility. We can and do provide a number of resources, but parents and children need to take some initiative to avail themselves of those resources.
Here’s the answer she got:
Riggenbach said with dwindling money that it could be difficult to fund such activities.
“I think it’s time the churches stand up and join all the forces, the park district and schools and hit this head-on,” Riggenbach said. “I don’t have an easy answer tonight but I do hear you.”
In essence, Riggenbach reinforced her entitlement mentality. He didn’t dispute it. He just said there wasn’t enough money or church involvement to provide those entitlements. Ironically, he’s a Republican.